Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Town of Baileyville
Baileyville proper is not in Stephenson County, but is located for the greater part in Ogle County. A northern addition, however, known as Knapp's Addition, extends into Silver Creek Township. It is said that plans were once made to remove the Baileyville post-office from Ogle to Stephenson County, and transfer the business section of the town thither. Extensive plans were immediately made for the establishment of a village, but for some reason none of them ever materialized. Obviously it was altogether impossible to try to found a village where there was no natural reason for its existence, and where no settlers wished to take up their abode. Thus the experiment was a gloomy failure, and Stephenson County suffered the loss of a possible additional village to its already large quota of settlements. The village of Baileyville today embraces about one hundred inhabitants, a dozen or more of whom live in Silver Creek Township. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
The Community of Blumenthal
The writer, H. B. Gorham, has been asked, on many occasions, how a certain portion of Harlem township was named Blumenthal, and also the meaning of the name. In reply will say, that sixty-eight years ago, today, March 23, 1868, J. Adam Burkhardt, the man who gave Blumenthal its name, passed away at his home in that neighborhood. Mr. Burkhardt was born in Germany, Oct. 4, 1795, and came to this vicinity in 1847, when he was 52 years of age. He built a home close to the Blumenthal creek, where he spent the remainder of his life, and where, in the summer time all the lowland pastures along the creek, from his home down to the river, were a mass of tall yellow flowers making a very beautiful sight. The name Blumenthal, (German) means in English Flower Valley; hence the name he gave to this vicinity more than 85 years ago. And it still goes by that name. Mr. Burkhardt, was among the first to be laid to rest in the Grand View cemetery, on Cedarville road. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Bolton comprises two villages: the original village, known as Van Brocklin, which contains a church and originally contained the store and post-office, and the new village, called Bolton, which is built about the Chicago Great Western station, nearly a mile south of Van Brocklin. The old village is of early foundation, and marks the site of the first permanent settlement in Florence Township. The new village dates from 1887, when the railroad station was erected and the plat of the town laid out south of the station.
There is nothing of interest at Bolton. The town contains a grain elevator, a creamery owned by a farmers' stock company, and a distillery, which caters to a local trade. The population of the town is about fifty, with small signs of an appreciable future increase. Yellow Creek winds through the old village of Van Brocklin, now almost deserted, but for the country church. The site is very picturesque, lying a short distance southwest of the limestone cliffs and caves of Krape Park. The old village
is interesting as the site of an early settlement in the county's history, but the new village is practically without life or interest. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
Buckeye Center is no longer a postoffice, and since the removal of that institution there is nothing at the cross roads to attract the attention of the pass- ing traveller. Formerly a large number of farmers came to Buckeye Center for their mail, and the settlement which sprang up about the postoffice supported a general store. However, the advent of the Rural Free Delivery system put Buckeye Center postoffice out of service, as it did so many others. With the withdrawal of the postoffice the store discontinued its business and the village is now merely a group of farm houses. Buckeye Center does, however, contain the town hall of Buckeye Township, where the township meetings are held. There is also an Evangelical church, the oldest now in existence in the county. It is the same building which was originally built, and presents an exceedingly dilapidated appearance, many of the windows being broken in, and the whole property abandoned and out of repair. Services have long since been discontinued in the church, and the building is now of interest only to the lover of the antique. While Buckeye Center is hardly a village in the strict sense of the word since the removal of the postoffice, the settlement is most picturesque, being located in a wooded hollow at the foot of a considerable hill. The main buildings of the settlement are occupied by the Maple Spring Dairy, whose trim dwelling-house and outbuildings, and neat, well-kept, sweet-scented dairy bespeak a prosperous and well conducted business. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
A typical village of the prairie is Buena Vista, located on Richland Creek in the northwestern corner of Buckeye Township. The site has been appropriately named Buena Vista, for it is located on a slight natural eminence, the prospect from which is most beautiful. Outside of the natural beauty of the surroundings, there is little within the town to attract the visitor or speculator. Buena Vista was platted and laid out September 19, 1852, by Marcus Montelius, who acted as surveyor. Philip Reitzell was the real founder of the town, inasmuch as he contributed forty acres for the town site, and took charge of selling them. But Buena Vista never grew very rapidly. When the railroad came through in 1888 there was an influx of population, which, however, never amounted to a "boom." Unfortunately, Buena Vista has never offered any inducements to settlers. There is no church in the village, and has never been one. Bellevue church, one and one-half miles east of the city is a Lutheran church, and offers facilities to the members of that church. Aside from the Bellevue church, the places of worship are, in general, at a considerable distance from Buena Vista. As far as schools are concerned, the village is fairly well provided for. There is a very satisfactory district school, but no high school opportunities are offered, and the aspiring youth is obliged to journey either to Orangeville, or, as is usually the case, to Freeport.
Buena Vista possesses a creamery, which was established about thirty years ago, and has been in operation almost constantly since that time. It is operated by a Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association, and is managed by B. Jonely, who has been in charge for the last four years. There is also a large lumber business, which, however, is not a home industry, but is conducted by Meyers Brothers, of Scioto Mills.
The old Whitehall Mills, long since burned to the ground, were for a long time the only mills of the vicinity, and enjoyed a large business. In 1839 or 1840 the old mills were erected by Philip Reitzell and Ezra Gillett, the former building the grist-mill and the latter the saw-mill. Mr. Reitzell purchased the saw-mill from Mr. Gillett, and operated the business until his death, when his sons succeeded to the business. They continued in possession until 1869, when the venture failed and the mill was sold under foreclosure proceedings to the Northwestern Life Insurance Company for $22,000. In 1870 Jacob Schaetzell and Jacob Rumel bought the business and sold it to Samuel Wagner. Mr. Wagner disposed of the business to Jerry Wohlford, for $18,090, and the latter continued in operation until the burning of his mill. After a short season on operation, Mr. Wohlford discontinued the grist-mill and continued to operate the saw-mill alone. In 1887, the place was visited by fire, and the mill burned to the ground. No attempts were ever made to rebuild the structure.
At the present time, Buena Vista patronizes one store, which carries a general stock of groceries, dry goods, hardware, books, drugs, etc. W. M. Gift who is proprietor of the store has only owned the venture for a few years. Mr. Gift is also postmaster at Buena Vista. The last census gave Buena Vista a population of 30 inhabitants, and there are small prospects for further growth or development. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Cedarville is a beautiful village six miles south of Freeport in the valley of Cedar Creek. About the village along the creek that cuts its way through the outcropping Galena limestone, are some of the most picturesque scenes in the County of Stephenson. The absence of railroad or trolley gives the village many characteristics peculiar to the towns of earlier days. The first settlements were made in 1837. That year Dr. Van Valzah, the pioneer of that long train of immigrants from Pennsylvania, built a cabin and bought the claim to the mill site. The same year came the Chicagoans. Josiah Clingman had visited the vicinity and picked out a claim in 1836, and then brought his family in 1837. His wife, Mrs. Maria Clingman, is still living in Cedarville having passed the century mark, Dec. 12, 1909. She says there was just one log shack in the present limits of Cedarville when her family arrived in 1837. Levi Lucas had a log house north of the village, and here the Clingmans stayed until Mr. Clingman put a roof on his log house. John Goddard and Barton Jones had marked the mill claim which they sold to Dr. Van Valzah. The village was laid out in 1849 by George Ilgen, the surveying being done by Marcus Montelius. About 1850, James Canfield set up a brick kiln about two miles west of the village. The present store and postoffice building was built about the same time by Samuel Sutherland. Other houses were built around 1851 by Francis Knauss, James Benson, David Clements and Dr. Bucher. John H. Adams built a handsome residence in 1854, and put up the mill in 1858.
The village grew slowly until it reached a population of 400 or 500. Its citizens of the early days were among the most progressive people of Stephenson County. Schools and churches have been maintained and in all the greater movements of the county, Cedarville has been represented by earnest and able men and women. John C. Pepperman is president of the village board and Henry Richert is clerk.
Mr. Frank W. Clingman is president of the board of school directors, and Geo. Kryder and Clinton Fink are members. The first school was three miles north of the present village in 1836. In 1846, through the influence of Hon. John H. Adams and the Clingmans, a one-story frame building was put up by subscription, near the old cemetery. A. Mr. Chadwick and a Julia Putnam were the first teachers.
In 1853 the basement of the Lutheran church was used as a school room, till a two-story brick building was completed in 1855. The lower room was for school purposes while the upper room was a public hall. In 1857, a Miss Gorham conducted a private school in the upstairs room. This school was conducted by Colonel H. C. Forbes till 1865. In 1880 the directors were John H. Adams, Joseph P. Reel and Jacob Sill. The present school building was erected later and is now being equipped with a steam heating plant. Many students have gone out of the Cedarville schools to achieve success and fame in the world.
Cedarville has four church buildings, the old Methodist church being built of brick in 1849; the German Reformed and Lutheran in 1854; the Evangelical in 1859 and the Presbyterian in 1876.
The first Methodist meetings were held in the log schoolhouse and at the Jiomes of Methodists and were conducted by the occasional circuit riders. The present pastor is Rev. B. C. Hollowell.
The Evangelical church at first worshipped at the schoolhouse and in the homes of the members. The church was built in 1856 at a cost of $3,000. Prominent among the founders of the church were the families of Benjamin Hess, Christine Auman, David Neidigh, Benjamin Levan, Robert Sedam, William Vore, Henry Mark, Jacob Sills, etc. It is claimed that the first services were held by Rev. Levi Tobias.
The Lutherans organization has been abandoned. Among its pastors were Rev. G. J. Donmeyer, E. Miller, J. Stoll, A. B. Niddlesworth, B. F. Pugh and Rev. Mr. Shimpf.
The following is the history of the Presbyterian church of Cedarville taken from the Historic Manual published in 1906: The first meeting that we have any record of was one held in what was known as the Richland schoolhouse, situated midway between Cedarville and Buena Vista, now known as the Belleview schoolhouse. An affidavit setting forth what was done at the meeting was found by John G. Bruce, December 13, 1893, amongst the papers of Adrian W. Lucas in his possession, to-wit:
"State of Illinois, Stephenson County, ss: We, the undersigned, do hereby certify that on the twenty-ninth day of December, A. D., 1845, the German Presbyterian Society of Richland, in said county, met at the Richland schoolhouse and elected viva voce the following named persons for the term of one year from the first Saturday in January, A. D., 1846; Adrian W. Lucas for the term of two years from the same time; and John H. Addams for the term of three years from the same date. That the name and style of said church or corporation is and shall be "The German Presbyterian Society of Richland," in said county.
"In testimony whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals this sec- ond day of January, A. D., 1846.
"HENRY AULT, (SEAL)
"ADRIAN W. LUCAS, (SEAL)
"JOHN H. ADDAMS. (SEAL) "State of Illinois, Stephenson County, ss: Henry Ault, one of the above named trustees, after being duly sworn according to law, deposes and says that the facts set forth in the foregoing certificate are true.
"Subscribed and sworn to before me this 5th day of January, A. D., 1846.
"JOHN A. CLARK.
"Clerk of the Circuit Court of said County.
"Filed and entered for record this 5th day of January, A. D., 1846, at half after 1 1 o'clock a. m. Liber B, pages 437 and 438.
"JOHN A. CLARK, Recorder. "Members Henry Ault, Adrian W. Lucas and wife, Elizabeth Lucas (Mr. Lucas' mother), Levi Lucas, Thos. Pollock and John Pollock."
How long this organization lasted or who were members other than the above named, we have no way of finding out. We have another record of later date that was also found with Mr. Lucas' papers, which reads as follows:
"BUCKEYE, ILL., January 27, 1851.
"At a meeting held pursuant to public notice for the purpose of organizing a Church of Christ, a sermon was preached by Rev. J. C. Downer, of Freeport, from Acts 20 -.24, after which Rev. A. Kent, of the Presbytery of Galena, was appointed moderator and Rev. J. C. Downer, clerk, Adrian W. Lucas and wife and grandmother, Elizabeth Lucas, Levi Lucas, Robert Boals, Mrs. Margaret Boal, Thomas Boal, Mrs. Catharine Jenkins, Miss Jennie Boal, Miss Sarah Boal, John Wilson, Mrs. Rosana Wynkoop, and Mrs. Sarah Young presented a joint letter of dismission from the First Presbyterian church of Freeport, and requested to be formed in the church."
The following resolutions were passed unanimously, viz :
"Resolved, that we now form a Church of Christ, which shall be called the First Presbyterian church of Cedarville, and be under the care of Presbytery of Galena, etc. The session met after adjournment, with the following as members: A. W. Lucas, elder; Rev. A. Kent, moderator; and Rev. J. C. Downer and John N. Powell, of the Galena Presbytery, as members. At this meeting the following members presented themselves and were admitted on profession of faith, viz: Andrew Wilson, Mrs. Mary Boal and Miss Letitia Boal.
July 12, 1851. At a meeting of the session held after preparatory services, the following members were received into the church, viz :
A. W. Lucas, Henry Ault, Levi Lucas, Thomas Pollock and John Pollock The services of the congregation were held in the Reformed church during the years 1867 to 1875 inclusive, and during the year 1876 in the M. E. church.
At a congregational meeting held January 21, 1876, it was decided to buy lots from Charles Duth and build on them a church. With this end in view, Jacob Latshaw, John Wright and J. Weber Addams were elected as a building committee, with full power to act. At this time Mr. W. Lucas (familiarly known in this community as Aunt Betty Lucas) offered to give $1,000 toward the erection of a church. With this splendid offer the committee went to work and built a fine church, 36x56 feet, gothic in style, with a 98-foot spire (a part of the spire was taken off) costing $3,400. The church was dedicated free of debt on Sunday, October 29, 1876. Rev. T. C. Easton, of Belleville, Illinois, assisted the pastor, Rev. L. H. Mitchell in the services. Many were turned away who could not find even standing room in the church during the service.
It was decided to celebrate the sixth anniversary of our church on December 29, 1905, and, with this object in view, a committee, consisting of Rev. R. Nex- womb, Mrs. J. K. Benson and C. W. Frank was elected, with power to act. The committee went to work with a will, and prepared a fine program. The committee to build a parsonage reported to the congregation that Morgan Gandy was the lowest responsible bidder. On motion the contract was awarded to him, and a building committee consisting of Jacob Latshaw, John H. Addams and John Wright was appointed. All the buildings were completed, costing $1,022,000, and committee discharged April 10, 1880. The following named are the present officers of the, church :
Minister: Rev. A. W. McClurkin.
Elders: F. W. Clingman, C. W. Frank Elias D. Baker, Henry Richart.
Trustees: J. K. Benson, Mrs. S. B. Barber, Jr., Alma Richart, Oliver P. Cromley, T. Hutchinson Rutherford, E. D. Baker.
Supply Pastors: Calvin Waterbury, 1845; J- C. Downer, 1851; John N. Powell, 1851; A. Kent, 1851; Robert Colston, 1853; Matthew B. Patterson, 1866; B. Roberts, 1867. Pastors John M. Linn, 1867-1871; Louis H. Mitchell, 1874-1878; John C. Irwin, 1879-1882; James McFarland, 1883-1884; J. W. Parkhill, 1884-1885; J. H. Dillingham, 1886-1889; Thomas Hickling, 1890-1892; Henry Cullen, 1892- 1900; Emmett W. Rankin, 1900-1901; Charles P. Bates, 1901-1902; James T. Ford, 1902-1904; Ozro R. Newcomb, 1905-1907; A. W. McClurkin, 1907.
The Cedarville Cemetery Association was organized in 1855 by John H. Addams, Marcus Montelius, Josiah Clingman, Peter Wooding and John Wilson. Josiah Clingman was elected president and John H. Addams secretary and treasurer.
The Cedarville Library was established in 1846. The first board of trustees consisted of John H. Addams, A. W. Lucas, Josiah Clingman and William Irwin. For years the library was located in the home of John H. Addams and was accessible to all. This library probably contained a higher proportion of books of real value than the libraries of today.
The Independent Band of Cedarville was organized in 1873. In 1880 the officers were : President, Henry Richert ; Secretary, J. B. McCammon ; Treasurer, W. B. Clingman, and George W. Barber, leader.
At present, Cedarville maintains one of the best bands in northern Illinois and is in great demand to play at public gatherings.
The first postmaster was George Reitzell. He was followed by William Irwin, Robert Sedam and Johnathan Sills. Jackson Richart began in 1856 and the present postmaster is Henry Richart.
From 1835 to 1855 the people of Cedarville had faith that the village was to grow to be a city. Mills and factories were established, many of which did a big business for that day. But a few factors which the people could not control determined otherwise and the place is a village still. One factor was the perfection of steam power. Another was the decline of the available water power, with its intervals of uncertainty. Another was the failure of the village to secure a railroad, and the fourth
is that modern phase of industrial life that has gathered up the little shops and factories into great corporations with almost unlimited capital. One by one these irresistible forces undermined the prospective industries of the village until the last dream of a city has been dissipated, and left Cedarville with the great opportunity to be a model village. In this it may still easily become great. Among the early business enterprises were Reel & Syler's Purifier Manufactory, which did a $30,000 business in
1880; J. B. McCammon's Carriage Factory, a $10,000 business in 1880; John Shaffer's Carriage Factory, established in 1859 ; the J. W. Henny Carriage Factory, which moved to Freeport; and the Cedarville Mills. The first mill was a God-send to that portion of the county. Dr. Van Valzah conducted it until 1840 when it was sold to David Neidigh. Conrad Epley and John W. Shuey bought it of Neidigh and sold it to Hon. J. H. Addams in 1844 for $4,4-(?) In 1846 Mr. Addams rebuilt the mill and in 1858 built the mill that
now stands as one of the land marks of the county. It was three stories high, 36x54, had three run of stones, and cost $10,000. Its capacity in 1880 was 100 barrels of flour daily. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Town of Dakota
In 1857, the Western Union Railroad Company completed surveying the line of its proposed route, and engaged upon its construction. At that time, the site of Dakota was owned by Robinson Baird and Ludwig Stanton. The former sold his claim to Thomas J. Turner, who, in turn, sold to S. J. Davis, and to him, in conjunction with Ludwig Stanton, is due the honor of the surveying and platting of the present prosperous village. Robinson Baird, Chas. Butterfield and a man named Wohlford, owned houses located at different points on the one hundred acres which subsequently became the town, and these are said to have been the only improvements visible at this time. Soon after, an application was made to the Department to locate a post office in the village. This was granted, and the present name adopted by the Postmaster General, at the suggestion of Robinson Baird and Benjamin Dornblazer. The improvements concluded during the earlier years of Dakota's existence were scarcely of a character to astonish the outside world, or enrich the operator, and the first substantial house erected in the town was due to the enterprise and ambition of Benjamin Dornblazer. In the year 1859, that gentleman and John Brown, appreciating the future importance of the place for shipping purposes, put up a warehouse adjoining the track of the road then laid, and in the fall of the same year a second warehouse was moved into the city, like the Trojan horse, ready complete, and located to the rear of that subsequently raised by Fisher & Schmeltzer.
In 1860, the town contained seven dwellings, occupied severally by Benjamin Dornblazer, Samuel Lapp, D. W. C. Holsople, Abner Hall, Robinson Baird, Daniel Keck and "Auntie" Dawson. Holsople carried on a blacksmith shop, Robert Neil a cabinet shop, and Daniel Keck conducted the village store. In that year, S. H. Fisher and S. D. Schmeltzer erected a warehouse, the third to be raised since the town was laid out, but three years previous, the Methodist Church also went up, and improvements began to be generally made. These included the dwelling now occupied as a residence by John Brown, which was completed in 1860, and used as a hotel. George Muffley built a residence, as also did a Mrs. Ingraham ; Charles Muffley completed a carpenter-shop and tap-room, emigrating from some distant point in a house of limited dimensions and comforts, protected from the elements by a car-roof, and was persuaded to cast anchor in the growing village and open for business. This latter failed to materialize with gratifying profit to the Ganymede, who enlisted in the army, and is reported as having been killed in one of the engagements in the Southwest.
The war coming on, improvements were suspended, and nothing of importance was accomplished. This uninteresting condition was prolonged until 1864, in which year a number of dwellings were added to the list of domiciles. In 1866, more of the same kind were erected, and between that year and 1870, the main part of the town was built up. In 1869, the town was incorporated as a village, and business increased in a proportionate ratio. This gratifying prosperity continued until 1873, when the panic palsied trade, improvements, and other features of advancement which had previously manifested a healthy growth. This calamity affected Dakota visibly and disastrously ; there was neither business nor money; the crops, though abundant, could not be profitably marketed, and these adverse circumstances produced their natural results, as already suggested. After five years of embarrassments and financial stringency, times became more easy, money was to be had, crops to be marketed, and the resources of the surrounding country, in process of a more generous development, to enrich the town.
The past two years have been years of prosperity to Dakota; the year 1880, a gratifying improvement over 1879, with a promise for the future correspondingly encouraging. In 1879, $169,315 was paid out in the village for grain, hogs and cattle. Five hundred and ninety-four car loads of grain and 125 car loads of cattle and hogs were shipped therefrom, and improvements of value and beauty added to those previously enumerated. The village has a population of over 200, is an important station on the road, the center of a rich agricultural country, and possessing all the requirements for a successful out- come. The village was incorporated by a special act of the Legislature, approved during the session of 1869, and the first election under the provisions thereof held on Monday, April 5, of the same year, at which Silas Yount, W. R. Auman. J. D. Bennehoff acted as Judges ; F. B. Walker and A. T. Milliken, Clerks. The act of incorporation was adopted by a vote of twenty-four to twelve, and the following officers have served at intervals since that date:
1869 - Peter Yoder, President; John Brown, W. R. Auman, Greorge Lambert and R. M. Milliken, Associates.
1870 - The board remained as in 1869, except that W. Askey and E. H. Dressier were elected in place of George Lambert and R. M. Milliken.
1871 - W. R. Auman, President; W. Askey, J. Fury, John Brown and J. D. Schmeltzer.
1872 - G. Walker, President; J. D. Schmeltzer, who resigned and was succeeded by D. Lides, E, Yount, A. Oaks and S. Zimmerman who was succeeded by D. Keck, Zimmerman having resigned.
1873- J. Brown, President; E. W. Yount, D. B. Bobb, Ezra Durling and Isaac Aldendorfer.
1874- George Walker, President; D. B. Bobb, John Brown, W. R. Auman and Daniel Seidles, Sr.
1875- Michael Stack, President; D. B. Bobb, W. R. Auman, Samuel Schmidt and Edwin W. Yount.
1876- Michael Stack, President; R. M. Telfer, N. B. Perry, E. W. Yount and D. M. Ruth. 1877 - W. R. Auman, President; S. P. Rote, John Brown, M. Stack and R. M. Telfer. 1878- John Brown, President; W. R. Auman, R. M. Telfer, M. Stack and T. B. Schmeltzer. 1879- D. B. Bobb, President; S. P. Rote, R. M. Telfer, T. B. Schmeltzer and A. M. Artley. 1880- M. Slack, President; D. Keck, W. R. Auman, A. M. Artley and Joseph Unangst.
Village Treasurer. - George Lambert, 1869; W. Askey, 1870-71; S. Zimmerman, 1872; E. W. Yount, 1873; W. R. Auman, 1874-75; E. W. Yount, 1876; S. P. Rote, 1877; R. M. Telfer, 1878; S. P. Rote, 1879; Joseph Unangst, 1880.
Village Clerk.- A. M. Milliken, 1869; E. H. Dressier, 1870; J. D. Schmeltzer, 1871 ; A. Oaks, 1872; D. B. Bobb, 1873-75 ;,R. M. Telfer, 1876 -77; T. B. Schmeltzer, 1878-79; W. R. Auman, 1880.
Rock Run Presbyterian Church.- The congregation was organized in 1855, and one year later the church edifice in Section 30, Rock Run Township, erected and occupied until the village of Dakota was built up, when the organization was changed to that point where, in 1870, the church now occupied was built, the old edifice in Section 30 being appropriated by the Reformed Presbyterian's, of which the Rev. Dr. Harris is the Pastor. The church at Dakota is of frame, 35x55, with a steeple eighty feet high, supplied with an organ, and was built at an expense of $3,000. It will afford a seating capacity for 300 worshipers. The congregation consists of sixty members, and the following ministers have served : The Revs. John M. Linn, L. H. Mitchell and J. C. Irwin. Services are held every other Sabbath.
Methodist Church - Was organized soon after the village was laid out, under the auspices of the Rev. W. D. Atchison. In the summer of 1860, the congregation erected a commodious and handsome house of worship in the village of Dakota, at a cost of $2,000. In 1878, the steeple was completed, and other improvements added. It is of frame, 49x36, with a capacity for 300, and in every respect appropriate to the uses for which it was designed. The present congregation numbers 100 members, and the value of church property, including a parsonage, represents about $4,000. The following is a list of ministers who have officiated : The Revs. W. D. Atchison, Barton H. Cartwright, John 0. Foster, ' Aaron Cross, James M. Condee, T. H. Haseltine and George H. Wells, the present incumbent.
Evangelical Lutheran Church. - Sometime during the year 1857, the Rev. Ephraim Miller began to preach in the schoolhouse at Dakota, and, on the 3d day of September, 1859, the following persons held a meeting and organized the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dakota : Ephraim and Sarah Stotler, Samuel and Mary Lapp, Jacob and Helena Maurer, John and Catharine Wirth, James Ling and George Frantz. The Rev. Ephraim Miller was elected Pastor, Ephraim Stotler, Elder, and James Ling, Deacon. In the fall of 1867, steps were taken to build a house of worship, which was completed and dedicated December 5, 1868, at a cost of $2,626.71, the same being paid when the edifice was delivered to the church authorities. At the date of its dedication, money was subscribed for the purchase of a bell, which was accordingly procured, the first bell introduced into the township. The present congregation is composed of a large number of worshipers, and the value of the church property is quoted at about $2,500. The ministers who have served are the Revs. Ephraim Miller, A. A. Trimper, Solomon Ritz, Charles Anderson, Samuel Cook, John Slott, Charles Young, R. Lazarus, S. C. Seidel and J. A. Beidler, the present Pastor.
Schools. - The system of education in force elsewhere throughout the county is employed at Dakota. The present edifice was begun in 1855, and completed, with an addition costing $500, in 1867. There are two departments, primary and grammar, requiring the services of two teachers, and furnishing the means of education to an average daily attendance of 125 pupils. The school is under the control of a Board of Directors, consisting of E. M. Shullenburger, J. Clingman and D. M. Holsopple, and require an annual appropriation of $1,000 for their support.
Dakota Lodge, Vo. 566, I.O.O.F. - Was instituted by Deputy Grand Master W. J. Fink on the 22d of February, 1875, with eight charter members, and the following officers: E. Durling, N. G. ; J. W. Gladfelter, V. G.; E. Yount, Treasurer, and J. D. Schmeltzer, Secretary. The lodge attained a high degree of prosperity, but, upon the morning of October 27, 1877, the building to which the lodge had removed in 1876 from Keek's building, was totally destroyed by fire, the craft losing everything except
its lodge books, and suffering, in addition to the inconvenience occasioned by the fire itself, a pecuniary damage of $380. Rooms were at once fitted up in Artley's building, and possession taken thereof December 22, 1877, since when prosperity has prevailed against the elements. The present membership is forty-eight, with the following officers : W. H. Butterfield, N. G. ; E. Yount, V. G. ; T. B. & J. D. Schmeltzer, Secretaries ; J. R. Young, Treasurer.
[History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Village of Damascus
The village of Damascus is one of the oldest of the county. It is not a large settlement, and has never been platted out as a village site, but all of the farmers within a radius of a mile or more call themselves residents of Damascus. The population gathered about the store and blacksmith shop, which form the nucleus of the village, numbers about one hundred and fifty.
Damascus was founded and given its present name in 1837 by Norman Phillips, who became its first postmaster after a while. In three or four years the post-office was established and Damascus continued to have a post-office patronage of five hundred or more until the rural free delivery system came a few years ago, and Damascus post-office ceased to do business.
Damascus is largely settled by members of the Phillips family, descendants of the man who founded the village, and for many years the post-office was conducted by members of the Phillips clan. The one break in the link was the post-mastership of W. K. Bechtold, who for a while ran the general store, and held the office of postmaster at the same time.
The village contains a general store, owned by G. W. Phillips, a blacksmith shop, of which James Albright is proprietor, a school, a church, and a creamery. In years gone by, Damascus was a very important point. Being situated on the Pecatonica River, at one of the few points where the stream was crossed by a oridge, it drew a large number of transients to its population. These gradually departed upon the building of more bridges, and the establishment of ferries, and to-day the place is of very little commercial importance, except for its creamery. Tradition says that when the controversy concerning the establishment of the county seat was in progress, Damascus was an active factor in the struggle, and was finally defeated by the small majority of one vote. Freeport, Cedarville and Damascus were the candidates for the honor, and, as is well known, Freeport eventually won out. Nevertheless, both Cedarville and Damascus were lively competitors. They had the advantage of a more central location and at one time it seemed as if they were the logical candidates for the court house. But Freeport backed up its claims with a large sum of money, and the battle was to the strong.
Damascus Creamery. The creamery is operated by a farmer's stock company, of which J. A. Phillips is president. It does a large business, and, outside of Freeport, is by far the most important creamery in the county.
First Baptist Church. The Damascus Baptist Church has been in existence for about twenty years. It was founded in 1890 by the Rev. C. E. Wren, pastor of the Lena Church, and has since been attended by the pastors who do service for that congregation. The charge is a student charge, and the pastor at present in charge is the Rev. Hervey Gilbert, who resides at Lena. The membership of the church is about thirty. The church building was built very soon after the founding of the church society in Damascus.
Damascus lies on the road between Lena and Cedarville, about an equal distance from both of these points. It is situated on the town line between Harlem and Waddams townships, and the post-office has at various times been located in Harlem Township. At the time of the advent of the rural delivery, it was established on the Waddams side of the road, and the greater part of the village is on that side. The last census gave the village a population of about one hundred and fifty, and there has been
hardly any increase since that time. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Dublin, or New Dublin settlement as it is familiarly called, embraces four square miles of territory, partly in Kent and partly in Erin townships, from Willet's Grove to Callan's corners, and is largely settled by Irish farmers who came from the immediate vicinity of Dublin, on the Liffey.
The first settlers were Bartholomew Doyle and Michael Murphey, who came about 1835 or 1836. New arrivals were not numerous until 1842, when a large number of emigrants, including Andrew Cavanaugh, George Cavanaugh, Andrew Farrell, Dennis Maher, a Mrs. Burns, John McNamara, Patrick Brown, etc.
Soon after the coming of Doyle and Murphey, St. Mary's Church of the Mound, one of the two rural churches of Stephenson county which adhere to the Catholic faith, was established by a Galena priest. Recently a new and handsome structure was erected, which does great credit to Dublin settlement, and is an unusually attractive church edifice for a country congregation.
The present parish of Dublin comprises a territory about eight thousand acres in extent, and numbers fifty or more families. The settlement is unique in that it has clung together for a period of nearly eighty years without much change in its character except the natural improvements that have come to all the farm lands of the middle west.
This settlement embraces about four miles square of territory, partly in Kent and partly in Erin Township, from Willet's Grove to Callan's Corner, and is settled largely by Irish farmers, who came from the immediate vicinity of Dublin, on the Liffey. The first settlers have already been mentioned, viz., Bartholomew Doyle and Michael Murphey, who made their several claims during the years 1839 and 1840, and became the neighbors of James Timms, Jesse Willet, John Hart, and the pioneers generally who had preceded their arrival in the country.
Doyle, who remained on his claim sufficiently long to enable him to complete a limited improvement and donate three acres thereof for the site of St. Mary's Church, sold out his domain to Robert Franey, and moved west about half a mile, where he again began the opening and improvement of a farm. Soon after these adventurous travelers from the Green Sod had made claims and established the beginning of a life in the West, free from the trammels and discouragements encountered at home, they were followed hither by brothers and kin from the land of their birth, through whose labors and intelligence the little spot of land known as Dublin has been made a veritable Paradise.
They began to come in quite numerously about 1842, and thence to 1850, scarcely a week passed that the arrival of an additional toiler from over the sea was not noted. Among these were Andrew and George Cavanaugh, Andrew Farrell, who settled on land now owned by C. H. Hughes ; Dennis Maher, on land in Section 29, now owned by Daniel Brown; the family of a man named Burns, who, with his son. was drowned at Dixon, by the breaking of a bridge across Rock River. His widow and family, unappalled by this calamity, which greeted her arrival to the confines of a new home, pressed on, and was warmly welcomed to the new settlement by her sympathetic country-folk. Others came also, including John McNamara, Patrick Brown, etc., until the settlement became established, having a church and school of their own, and many other auxiliaries to comfort, happiness and independence. Indulging a spirit of that fellow-feeling which is said to make the whole world kin, that encouragement to the industrious and deserving poor which lightens the burden and illuminates the pathway, the Irish settlers of Dublin to-day, numbering about fifty families, cultivating an average of not less than 8,000 acres of land, living in harmony, one with the other, faithful to the duties daily imposed, charitable to all, present the picture of a life of felicity, sobriety and prosperity, as unusual as it is undeniable, and as gratifying as it is pronounced.
The first birth in the settlement occurred in 1843, a son to George Cavanagh. The first marriage solemnized was that of Robert Cavanagh to Bridget Maher, in 1844. A Mr. Gillis, died in December, 1845, the first death. He was taken sick during the autumn of that year, and, in spite of admonitions to care for himself, he continued to labor until about the date mentioned, when he "jumped the life to come," and was buried in the grove on Burns' Branch, when death and winter closed the autumn scene.
St. Mary's Church of the Mound
Dublin settlement was projected and completed in the days when the groves were God's first temples throughout the wilderness of Illinois. It was built of logs, being 18x20, and claimed as the first Catholic Church erected in the diocese, between Galena and Chicago, though the same claim is made for the Catholic Church in Rock Run Township, erected by the Mullark and Doyle families. St. Mary's was put up by the early settlers, eight logs high, but without furniture, i. e., pews or ornamentations, and occupied until 1857, when the present stone edifice, 35x75, was completed and consecrated. The first Pastors in the old church were the Rev. Fathers Schlaugenberg, Petitot, Brady, Keeney, Durvin, Cavanagh and McLaughlin. The present congregation numbers sixty families, under the pastorate of Father Michael Hogan. The realty of the church includes forty acres, five of which are appropriated to cemetery purposes. These are located opposite the church edifice, and contain quite a number of handsome monuments. The church property is valued, with the parsonage, at $10,000.
Knights of St. Patrick of New Dublin
A temperance association organized in District Schoolhouse No. 7, St. Patrick's Day, 1871, with twenty-two members. In 1874, the society purchased an acre of ground adjoining the school- house, on which was erected a frame hall one story high, 22x56 in dimensions. The labors of the association have been eminently successful ; the society at present enjoys a large membership, with the following officers, and owning property valued at $600 : Daniel Brown, President ; Bryan Duffy, Vice President ; Michael McGurk, Treasurer, and Peter Doyle, Secretary. Meetings are convened once a month. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Dunbar is no longer a village. At one time there were prospects for the establishment and building of a prosperous country village, but the proximity of the place to Freeport, and the unsatisfactory nature of the site precluded any such possibility. There is now only a railway platform along the side of the tracks and a sign-board to denote the place where Dunbar might have been. A declining spur connects the Illinois Central tracks with those of the Great Western. A few hundred feet south of Dunbar is the Oakdale Campmeeting Ground of the Evangelical Association.
[History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Eleroy, a pleasant village of 100 inhabitants, , is located in the eastern portion of Erin Township, on the Illinois Central road, eight miles west of Freeport, and derives its importance from being the shipping-point for farmers in Erin, and certain portions of Kent and Harlem Townships. The location is beautiful ; being built in a grove, it possesses an abundance of shade trees, an ornament ordinarily wanting in prairie villages ; several springs of excellent water abound, and the ground upon which the village is built is sufficiently rolling to give the place a very picturesque appearance. The farming country in the vicinity is superior, and the business carried on considerable.
In 1853, after the Illinois Central road had been surveyed, and while work on the road-bed was in progress, it was decided to locate a station in the vicinity. of the village, and considerable speculation was indulged as to its exact site. This speculation bred discussions which led to the manifestation of a spirit of rivalry between the owners of property contiguous to the proposed depot, notably among whom were D. S. Jones, A. Bacon, D. S. Pickard and G. D. Babbitt. Finally, the three last named appropriated twenty acres of ground, and, procuring the services of F. D. Bulkley, surveyed the present village, laying out eighty six lots and otherwise, which were readily sold at prices ranging from ^'25 to $50 each, to George Andrews, James Harwood, James De Nure, Daniel Reese and other purchasers. At this time there were but two houses in the village limits, those of A. Bacon and S. 0. Pickard.
Although lots sold without difficulty and at extravagant rates, improvements failed to keep pace with the expectations cultivated by lot-owners and would-be speculators, and it was not until the railroad was completed to Warren and trains began to run, that an impetus was given to building and business. In 1854, James F. Harwood put up the first store in the village. It was located on the present site of Huff's store, and after passing through several hands was burned under the proprietorship of Benjamin Merrill. The next houses were built by Samuel Mathews and E. H. Woodbridge, both being of frame, and other improvements followed in the wake of those mentioned. The following year Benjamin Merrill built another house, which met, in 1858, the fate of his previous enterprise. The schoolhouse, a one-story brick, was built that year also. William Harwood and David Stacks built, on Ridge street, in 1855, and Samuel Michaels on the same thoroughfare during 1857, the house now occupied by Mrs. Ansenberger. The panic of 1857 produced no visible effect upon the progress or decay of the village, which is to-day a quiet habitation of quiet people, with much in the beauty of its situation and surroundings to recommend it as a place of residence.
The first marriage, as near as can be ascertained, after the village was laid out, was that between Horace Perkins and Susan Lloyd, in June, 1854, Squire A. Bacon tying the knot. The ceremony was performed while an epidemic of cholera was at its height, and the Justice who responded to the couple's solicitations to unite them, left the bedside of a member of his family, almost in the last pangs of dissolution, to discharge a duty imposed upon him by law. The first death was Mrs. Aseneth, wife of N. J. Churchill, who died August 17, 1858, and, there being no cemetery laid out at Eleroy, her body was interred at Lena. With regard to the first birth, the chronicles are silent.
Today, as already stated, Eleroy is a village of 100 population, according to the enumerations for 1880, and a shipping-point for grain and live stock, appreciating yearly. During 1879, there were 500 car loads of wheat and hogs shipped from this station. Within the village proper there are an elevator attached to the depot and operated by horse-power, two stores, a blacksmith- shop, school, church, and a number of private residences, which attract by their modest beauty and appearance of comfort. The "madding crowd" will scarcely ever run wild in the sunshine of Eleroy 's prosperity, but want and distress, the attendant concomitant's of riches and pretentiousness, "will never be known within her bills of mortality.
The School - Was built in 1855, and is still in use. One teacher is employed, who directs the studies of an average daily attendance of sixty-five pupils, under the direction of a Board of Trustees, composed of David Ide, E. R. Prindle and John Winters. The annual expense is stated at $400.
The United Brethren Church - A handsome stone church, located at the further end of Bidge street, was erected in 1869, at the cost of $4,400, with a small membership under the pastorship of the Rev. 0. B. Phillips. Previous to that date, the congregation worshiped in the schoolhouse, but now the association, which consists of six communicants, hold services in the church on alternate Sundays, the Rev. J. F. Hallowell, officiating. The following Pastors have served : The Revs. O. B. Phillips, I. K. Stratton, J. Johnson, E. D. Palmer and the present incumbent.
A few Baptists under the charge of Elder F. Bower, of Waddams Grove, and a Methodist class led by Mr. Hazlett, of Freeport, also a limited number of the Evangelical society, presided over by the Rev. Mr. Fair, alternate in their occupation of the church, Sundays, morning and evening.
Eleroy Lodge, No. 2?.7, I.O.O.F. Was organized on the 18th of December, 1857, with seven charter members, of whom N. J. Churchill was N. G. ; A. Bacon, V. G.; G. F. Anderson, Secretary, and A. C. Culver, Treasurer. Meetings were first convened at the corner of Ridge and Coal streets, where they continued two years, and were attended with a gratifying degree of prosperity. Thence the lodge room was removed to Churchill's house, and after a brief period work was suspended, the lodge surrendering its charter. After remaining quiescent for a number of years, the lodge revived on October 9, 1873, and is still in active operation. The present membership is stated at seventeen. Meetings are held weekly on Saturday night. The lodge property is valued at $275, and the officers are E. R. Prindle, N. G. ; John Hoff, V. G. ; John Winters, Treasurer, and H. Stocks, Secretary.
Salem Lutheran Church - Located one mile from Eleroy, was established in 1856, and has since grown steadily in wealth and influence. In that year, the congregation erected a small stone church, which answered the demand until 1869, when the present imposing edifice was completed and dedicated to worship. It is of stone, 55x32, located in the center of a six-acre lot, part of which is dedicated to burial purposes, and its steeple can be plainly seen for miles around. The church cost about $4,000, and is one of the most elaborate in the county. The congregation, which numbers fifty-four members, support a school enjoying an average attendance of seventy pupils, taught by the Rev. William Wall, the Pastor, and an assistant. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Epleyanna is a small settlement on the road between Rock City and Davis. It scarcely deserves the title of village, for there is no general store, and there never has been a post-office. There is a mill which was built in 1837, and, with many improvements and changes, is still standing. It is a stone structure, three stories in height, and is turned by the current of Rock Run. Among the features of the settlement are the German Evangelical Church, Rev. Mr. Beerbohm, pastor, and the Epleyanna School. The settlement comprises a few less than a dozen houses and a population of about thirty inhabitants. The settlement takes its name from Conrad Epley, who early in the history of the township purchased the Epleyanna Mills and the land surrounding the regions. His descendants have moved to other parts of the county since his death. [History of Stephenson County, by Addison L. Fulwider; 1910]
Everts Station, or Stevens Post-office, is the first station east of Freeport on the line of the Illinois Central Railroad. It is a tiny settlement, and of little or no importance since the post-office has been removed. The hamlet contains a few houses, a store, and a grain elevator owned by Freeport capital. Everts was founded when the Illinois Central line came through, although Stevens Post-office was of earlier origin. The village was at one time quite a thriving little community and promised, some day, to gain some importance. The rural free delivery system cut off the post-office patronage, caused the trade of the store to dwindle, and now Everts is a very lifeless spot without much prospect of future resuscitation. [History of Stephenson County, by Addison L. Fulwider; 1910]
Irish Grove was one of the earliest settlements of the county. It was gathered about 1836 by a company of Irish immigrants, whose descendants still reside in the vicinity. There were the Mullarkeys, the Foleys, the O'Briens, and many others. Here, at Irish Grove, one of the five Catholic churches of Stephenson County was established in 1838. Father Petiot, a Galena priest, assisted in the raising of the first structure, and he is said to have walked on foot from the western town to preach the Word of God to the early settlers. The old church did service until 1862, when the second structure was built. The old church had been a ramshackle affair with only two pews, and the 1862 edifice was not much better. Finally, in 1895, under the leadership of Father Sullivan, the Irish Grove people built the present handsome frame structure. Irish Grove has no store or post-office, and only about twenty settlers, but the vicinity is replete with Celts and adherents of Catholicity. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, pub 1910]
Globe Park, in the possession of the Order of the Knights of the Globe, was established about ten years ago, and named from the organization of which W. W. Krape was founder and supreme captain general. It is a portion of the wooded land lying on the banks of Yellow Creek about a mile west and two miles south of town. Just adjoining the tract are Beebe's Woods, noted for their popularity as a picnic ground for Freeporters. When the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company went out of existence, and the Order of the Knights of the Globe suffered in consequence, Globe Park passed from the hands of the fraternity into Mr. Krape's own hands, and the park was rechristened Krape Park. For several years it has been the seat of the Freeport Chautauqua, of which Mr. and Mrs. Krape were the instigators and advisory committee. A number of improvements have been made, which improve the park as a camping and chautauqua ground, but somewhat mar the natural wilderness. The necessary park buildings, including a very attractive and commodious little lodge for the keeper of the park, have been built, a windmill on the banks of the creek supplies the place with drinking water, and a large iron bridge spans the creek near the park lodge. Formerly a bridge was built across the dam, farther down stream, but four years ago, it was deemed unsafe and removed, and the present structure forthwith built. Across stream are located the Chautauqua buildings. No large auditorium has been built as yet, but one is contemplated. Several cottages have been built on the cliffs, and swings and park benches add to the comfort and convenience.
Nature had done her best to render the site of Krape Park attractive. Yellow Creek, at other points a very ordinary muddy prairie streamlet, is here transformed into a sylvan river of exquisite beauty. On the south side of the creek the limestone cliffs tower to a height of two hundred feet, indented with numberless caves and tiny indentures. A natural bridge of considerable proportions spans the dry bed of a stream, which formerly made its way down the cliff side in the form of a tiny waterfall, and which, at times, becomes gorged with the spring rains. Two large caves in the rock are accessible from the river and by pathway from overhead. One of these is known as Krape's Cave, while a smaller but more picturesque opening, far above, half covered with trailing vines and shrubbery, is known as Bear Cave. A huge cliff, rising above Krape's Cave, and surmounted with a growth of evergreen, has become known as Cedar Cliff, and the point of land on the heights overhead, from which an extended and lovely prospect of the park and surrounding country is visible, is christened Lookout Mountain. Until recently animals have been kept in the park, but not long ago the deer were taken away. Krape Park is about two miles from the heart of the city, and is accessible by an automobile transfer line from the courthouse. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
Village of Legal
Legal, or Legal Post-office, as it is still familiarly called, contains a store, and a cross roads settlement of limited dimensions. It is located on the Illinois Central line about two and one-half miles east of Everts, and formerly contained a post-office with a large rural patronage. The post-office is now discontinued, and the settlement is no longer of any importance. It does not contain any church or school, although school and church facilities are offered in the near vicinity. No regular railroad station is maintained at Legal, and the settlement, as a village, is now practically abandoned. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
Loran is one of the most picturesque villages of the county, being situated between and among the hills. It is a very old settlement, and, in spite of the lack of railroad facilities, has continued to hold its own with the towns of the county which are more favorably situated.
In 1854, George Lashell, who owned a farm near the Jo Daviess County line, conceived the idea of laying out a town and selling lots at a very reasonable price. The county surveyor was called into service, and laid out the plat of the present town, which has never been increased or added to because of a too rapid influx of population. The village occupies only one street, and originally contained five blocks of twelve lots each. The sale of lots was so slow that part of the original town plat was then vacated for village purposes, and only as much reserved, as equalled the limited demand made.
The town contains a store, blacksmith shop, two churches, a schoolhouse, and a number of private residences.
The First M. E. Church was built in 1875, and is valued at about $1,500. It is a frame edifice 30x40, with a seating capacity of one hundred and fifty worshipers. The congregation numbers about seventy-five members, who live in Loran and the surrounding country. There is no resident minister.
Evangelical Church. The Evangelical church is also a frame structure, 30x44 in dimensions, and was built about forty years ago. The membership of the church is about fifty, and the pastoral duties are performed by the pastor of the church at Shannon, Carroll County.
The schoolhouse is a stone building located on High street, the main and only street of Loran. It has always been considered an unusual good district school, and serves the country round about Loran for some miles.
Loran has not grown appreciably within the last fifty years, and hardly any development is to be expected of the village, as it is inaccessible, without transportation facilities, and offers no inducements in the way of business opportunities to the prospective settler. Its pleasant location distinguishes it from most of the villages of the county, but in all other respects the place is the ordinary country village. The population is supposed to be about one hundred or thereabouts. ["History of Stephenson County" by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Town of McConnell
McConnell is a pleasant little village on the Pecatonica River and on the Dodgeville branch of the Illinois Central Railroad. Besides several stores, hotel, blacksmith shop, two churches, a school house and the postoffice, there is an excellent creamery run by Peter Danielson, an expert butter-maker. The surrounding farmers find excellent market for milk. The creamery puts out from nine thousand to twelve thousand pounds of butter daily. West of McConnell, about one mile, is a cheese factory that does a good business. McConnell has a number of fine residences that are well kept. The old house, the oldest now standing in McConnell, was built by Robert McConnell and is yet in good repair. There is nothing left of the old mill but a remnant of the dam. Two old settlers, who have been citizens for more than fifty years and who know the history of the community, are Mr. A. C. Martin and Charles Graves.
In 1836 John Dennison entered one thousand acres on the present site of McConnell. He had the town fever and his idea was to lay out and build up a town on the Pecatonica. He was joined by John Vanzant and built a saw mill north of the grove in 1836. The next year, Dennison and Vanzant, the latter being a surveyor, laid off the land in town lots and made such improvements as they could in order to attract settlers.
In 1838 Robert McConnell arrived from Pennsylvania and purchased the land and improvements and called it "McConnell's Grove." He established a store at once and brought his stock from Galena. The town did not build up rapidly and the land was secured by the Illinois Central Railroad Company, which sold it to John Kennedy after the best timber had been removed. Kennedy sold lots and farms to settlers, including Charles Webster, George Buck, John Ault, Lewis G. Reed and other about 1855.
In 1880 McConnell had a population of about one hundred and fifty, a hotel, two wagon and blacksmith shops, a harness shop, two stores and received mail three times a week. The school house was built in 1849. The first teachers in the vicinity were Fayette Goddard and Adeline Hulburt, with an average of seventy students for many years. The school district was divided, because of the increased number of settlers, in 1868 and 1871. The present school building was erected in 1889. Talk of building a new three room school is persistent, but the majority of the taxpayers are not yet convinced that they want to build so large a school.
McConnell Lutheran Church.
The Lutheran Church was organized in 1850, October 19, with nineteen members. The first pastor was Rev. G. J. Donmeyer. Services were first held in the school house, and in 1869 the church building was erected. It was built of brick, 30 x 45, had a steeple and cost $2,200. In 1880 there were fifty members, and G. J. Donmeyer was still pastor. His connection with the church had not been continuous, however, and for a time Rev. J. Stoll and J. K. Bloom had served as pastors. Rev. Mr. Barr is the present pastor.
Three miles to the west of McConnell is another Lutheran Church, which was organized also by Rev. G. J. Donmeyer in 1851 with thirteen members. In 1871 the organization built a church building valued at $1,890. In 1880 Rev. J. W. Fritch was pastor.
Rev. W. G. Metzker, of Orangeville, is pastor of the United Brethren Church.
A small Methodist congregation, under the pastorate of Rev. Charles Briggs, is making excellent headway. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
There is little to tell concerning the history of Mill Grove, but what there is is of a profoundly pathetic nature. The settlement marked the site of the first permanent settlement in Loran Township. It is located in Section 14, on the banks of Yellow Creek, where that stream makes a wide curve and loop to the northward, and William Kirkpatrick was the man whose efforts brought it into life.
He settled here with his household effects in 1836, and straightway proceeded to build a mill which was christened Kirkpatrick's Mill. For a long time, it remained the mill of greatest importance in the county, its nearest competitor being the Van Valzah Mills at Cedarville, established by Dr. Van Valzah. When new emigrants came to Loran Township, Kirkpatrick's Mill was the logical place for them to take up their abode. Not only was it the only settlement of consequence, but the rest of the township was almost an untrodden wilderness, and the courageous pioneer was never desirous of hewing himself a home in the wilderness when there was already one hewn out for him on the outskirts of the virgin forest. So Mill Grove continued to thrive and became quite a settlement in spite of the unhealthfulness of the site. But the settlers had founded their expectations upon vain hopes if they ever thought Mill Grove would become a settlement of considerable size. In 1850 the cholera visited Kirkpatrick's Mills with disastrous results. In 1852 the dread disease appeared again, and almost the whole population was which to operate (sic). The population was gone, the town dead, and the wheels of the mill silent. Never again did Mill Grove attain importance as a settlement. When the schoolhouse was moved away in 1841; no second institution of learning was ever built. With the advent of the cholera and its attendant calamities, the town was abandoned, and its name is almost forgotten. ["History of Stephenson County" by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Village of Nevada
A visit to the site of Nevada is not necessary to convince the inquisitive historian that the village no longer exists, for the mere name is scarcely mentioned in these parts today. Formerly it was a place of great importance and was settled very early in the history of the county. Before the propagators of Ridott had brought their village before the eyes of 'the world, the town of Nevada was platted out and promised to be, some day, a factor of importance in county politics. But fate had ordained differently.
Nevada came into existence in 1852, when the Chicago and Galena Union Railroad came through the region. The railroad surveyors as well as the farmers of Ridott felt the need of a station somewhere along the route through Ridott Township, and the services of a surveyor were secured to plat out a town and sell lots. A railroad station, long since disappeared, was built, and the town named "Nevada" after Nevada City, Colorado, where Daniel Wooton, who owned the land on which Nevada was platted, died in '49, en route to the gold fields in California. A post-office was also established, of which William Wright was postmaster, and a number of improvements were made, which seemed to show that Nevada was a coming city.
This was all in 1852. Hardly had the town felt itself established, when the cholera plague came swooping down upon it from the west and with deadly results. So many of the inhabitants died within one short summer that the population was decreased nearly a half. In 1854, the cholera came again, and with results quite as horrible. The town was so depleted in population that it seemed unlikely that it would ever be able to tide over. However, it survived the shock six years, and an agency other than the dreadful cholera, viz., commercial enterprise and a transaction on the part of a company of Freeport gentlemen, which would today be branded "graft," succeeded in forever ruining Nevada's prospects. These men bought a large territory of land, where the village of Ridott stands today, having previously concluded arrangements with the railroad company that in the case of their platting out a town the railroad should remove its station, side-tracks, and so forth, to the new site. This was done in 1860. On the l0th of July of that year, the station was removed, and trains no longer stopped at ill-fated Nevada. A little later in the year, in obedience to the instructions of the department at Washington, G. W. Loveland, postmaster of Nevada, moved his postal station to the new town, and as the sun of Ridott rose, the orb of Nevada set. The villagers of Nevada were not loath to leave their old homes, with their memories of the cholera plague, and their proximity to the swamps and river bed lowlands, and a large majority of them moved to the new village. A few remained in the old home, and saw the deserted houses of their departed townsmen go to rack and ruin about them.
Deserted villages are sometimes quite as interesting as inhabited settlements. Sometimes, at least, from a historical standpoint, they are even more so. A visit to the empty plat of the Nevada town site shows some interesting developments within the last few years. The city lots have long been parts of a farm, and have been unutilized as cornfields, but now a transformation is taking place. The town is apparently reviving. A new house has been built on the main street within the last year, and an old mansion which stands back at some distance in aristocratic seclusion, has been re-painted and re-inhabited. It would be strange indeed if the logic of events should make Nevada a village again, with a wakeful community. It may be the case, for the village is easily accessible from Freeport by the interurban, and the lack of transportation facilities, which ruined the town, has been filled by the coming of the new electric line. As yet, the steps which have been taken are too vague to be called hopeful, and the population is a mere baker's dozen, while back from the little handful of houses which border on the tracks stretch the furrowed fields of a thriving farm, and the site which the village of Nevada used to occupy is only marked by the waving blades of corn. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
Town of Oneco
The oldest village in Oneco Township, and one of the oldest in the county, is Oneco, settled as early as 1840. It is situated in the north central portion of the township, northwest of the village of Orangeville, and consists of a church, a school, and a store, surrounded by a handful of houses.
Oneco was located on the old stage road to Galena and the lead mines of southern Wisconsin, and when it was laid out and platted, there were lively hopes on the part of its promulgators that it might become the most important city of the county. Henry Corwith, acting on behalf of J. K. Brewster, took a claim of a quarter section of land, surveyed it and platted it for a town. Later all but fifteen acres of the town site was bought and occupied as a farm. These fifteen acres were twice added to by Alonzo Denio, and the original fifteen acre plat with the two additions of Denio constitute the present village of Oneco.
In 1843, the first school house was built near Oneco village. In 1851 the first schoolhouse within the village was built a brick structure on Denio's addition, just east of the postoffice. In 1876 the structure which is still in use was built on the Orangeville Road at a cost of $2,000.
U. B. Church.
The church of the United Brethren Association, which is the only church building within the village of Oneco, was established ten years ago. The structure itself was erected in the summer of 1880 by the Methodist congregation of Oneco. It was occupied by them for twenty years, until the small size of the congregation and the shortness of the distance to Orangeville, which was only two miles away, made them decide to join forces with the larger church. At the time above mentioned the transfer of property was made and the United Brethren Association took possession of the church. The Oneco church is on a circuit with Orangeville, McConnell, St. James, and Winslow, pastoral duties being performed by the Rev. W. G. Metsker, of Orangeville. The church property is valued at $1,200, and the membership numbers forty-three communicants, with a Sunday school of fifty.
The men who planned the village of Oneco entertained a vain hope that the settlement might some time attain prominence. Four things have thwarted the growth of the village. The first was the lack of the water power which the settlers had hoped to obtain. Honey Creek flows close to the village, and while, at stated seasons of the year, it is swollen with floods, and afford some water power, nevertheless it is of no value for the greater part of the year. Thus the mill venture was a failure. The second relapse which Oneco suffered was in the platting of Orangeville which was established on a more favorable site. Two villages of equal prominence could hardly exist in those days within two miles of each other, and when one of them offered greater inducements for habitation than the other the battle was sure to be to the strong.
When the railroad came through in 1888, and decided to locate its station at Orangeville and pass by Oneco, the third misfortune befell the ill-fated village. A.11 the traffic was turned aside to Orangeville, and Oneco was no longer a commercial center. But with the coming of the Rural Free Delivery, the fourth and final blow was administered and the village passed out of existence. Oneco lost its postoffice, like so many other small villages, and the population, which had once been in the neighborhood of one hundred, dwindled to less than half that number. The more aspiring inhabitants of the village transferred their place of habitation to Orangeville, Rock Grove, or elsewhere, and Oneco became a tradition.
The site of the village is pleasant, though not surpassingly, beautiful. The town presents an appearance of thrift, if not liveliness, and, in spite of the lack of commercial advantages, the village of Oneco still remains a very pleasant place for residence. ["History of Stephenson County" by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Red Oak is the newest town in Buckeye Township. It was not a natural settlement, but sprang into existence at the time of the building of the railroad to Madison and Dodgeville., In 1888, the two northern branches of the Illinois Central were put through. They ran over the same tracks from Freeport to Scioto Mills, and thence to a point in the southern part of Buckeye Township. Here they divided and the Madison branch went north through Buena Vista and Orangeville, while the Dodgeville line ran in a northwesterly direction through the towns of McConnell and Winslow. At the point of divergence in the southern part of Buckeye, there was originally no town, but a tiny settlement quickly grew up about the railroad station. The station was originally named Cedarville Junction, from its proximity to that village, but the postoffice which was presently established, assumed the name of Red Oak, and the railroad name of the village was also changed.
The first settler of Red Oak was W. R. Bender, who founded the village in 1888. He opened a grocery, and general store, and became the first postmaster. The settlement grew slowly for a time, when the influx of several farmers raised the population to about one hundred, which it still remains. For thirteen years, Mr. Bender conducted his grocery and general store, until the advent of another grocery in 1901. At that time he closed the doors of his general store, and reopened soon after with a hardware and farmers' supplies establishment. In addition to its two stores, Red Oak also boasts of a creamery, which is one of the oldest institutions of the town. It was built and organized in 1892, four years after the coming of the railroad. The Red Oak Creamery is now in the hands of the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association, and is operated by William Waite. It is doing a large business, and is one of the most prosperous of its kind in the county.
Red Oak possesses two lodges, one a camp of the Modern Woodmen of America, and the other an organization of the Mystic Workers. There is one church, a Methodist organization, which was founded soon after the building of the town. The church edifice, which is a handsome brick structure, was erected in 1891. The pastor now in charge is the Rev. W. M. Kaufman, of Orangeville, who has Red Oak as part of his circuit. The several church societies are all active organizations in their various lines of activity, but aside from them, the social life of the community is necessarily limited. The last census numbered the population of Red Oak at about 125, and the village has grown little, if any at all, within the past ten years. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Rock City, located about two and one-half miles west of Davis on the line of the C., M. & St. P. R. R., is a city only in name. It is doubtful if a spot more completely devoid of life is existent in the county. The site is not an unpleasant one, for all that, and the village contains a central square, in the middle of which is a tall windmill, which pumps water for the village pump and watering trough. The village was projected and platted early in 1859, upon the completion of the Western Union Railroad through the place. In reality the history of Rock City reaches farther back than 1859, for the village is a logical outgrowth of the old Rock Run Mills Post-office, founded by H. G. Davis as early as 1841. In 1848, the Rock Run Mills Post-office was moved to a town called Jamestown, or Grab-all, very near the site of Rock City. Here it remained for eleven years, until the building of the Western Union Railroad through Rock City made Grab-all a lost town and the very site is now almost forgotten.
On January 10, 1859, George Raymer executed a contract with T. S. Wilcoxin and William Peterson for the transfer of a certain section of land for village purposes. In the same year the village was surveyed and platted, and lots were sold at prices ranging from $10 to $50. Upon the completion of the railroad, the town began to build up somewhat, but the settlement never suffered the throes of a "boom." No considerable inducements were ever offered to settlers in Rock City, and settlers never came there in considerable numbers.
Rock City boasts of two churches and a school, both churches being supplied by ministers from Davis.
United Evangelical Church.
This church somewhat dominates the religious element of the village. It was originally a church of the Evangelical Associa-tion, having been founded in 1868. The present edifice was completed and dedicated in 1869, under the pastorate of the Rev. H. Rohland at a cost of $2,200. The pulpit is now occupied by the Rev. J. Johnson, of Davis. The number of communicants approximates thirty-five, with a Sunday school of about the same proportions.
In the fall of 1878 a number of Methodist believers of Rock City connected themselves with the Davis circuit, holding services in the schoolhouse and the Evangelical Church until the summer of 1879, when the present church building was completed and occupied. Its cost, including a bell, was $1,500. The congregation at Rock City has always been small; the present membership is about a dozen. No Sunday school is maintained. It is altogether probable that Methodist services will be discontinued at Rock City, the size of the Methodist community being too small to warrant their further continuance.
Rock City presents a commonplace appearance, quite like that of any other unprogressive country village of the present day and age. There are a few very handsome residences, one or two stores, a railroad station, together with the buildings connected therewith, and there the catalogue ends. There has never been any large influx of population, and probably never will be. The fact that the village is hemmed in between Davis and Dakota, and is, withal, only about eleven miles from Freeport by railroad, and seventeen by road precludes the possibility of growth. The population is not over one hundred. ["History of Stephenson County" by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Village of Scioto Mills
Scioto Mills, formerly known as Cockrell Post-office, an inconsiderable village of something less than an hundred inhabitants, is the only village which Harlem Township boasts. It is located on the banks of Richland Creek, on the Madison-Dodgeville branch of the Illinois Central Railroad.
Richland Creek, with its swift current and many rapids, furnishes admirable water power, and a number of mills have always been located along its banks. Scioto has always been a favorite spot for mills, although the present mill has not been running for some time. Levi Wilcoxin built the first mill ever located at this particular spot on Richland Creek, and later Scioto Flouring Mills, with Thompson Cockrell as proprietor, were located on the site of the first mill. Milling has long since been discontinued.
The village itself contains two or three stores, the railway station, a blacksmith shop, and a number of residences. There is only one street, but the town is very beautifully situated on a hill sloping down to the creek, in the midst of a grove of high trees. The main business of the Meyers Brothers Lumber Company is located at Scioto Mills, with sub-stations at Buena Vista, and elsewhere. The last census gave Scioto Mills a population of over one hundred inhabitants, but the number has dwindled somewhat since that time, and comprises about ninety at the present time. [History of Stephenson County, by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
South Freeport, formerly known as Dunbar, is the Freeport station of the Chicago & Great Western Railroad. It is located at the point where the railroad approaches nearest to Freeport, and consists merely of railroad buildings the passenger and freight offices, with their attached buildings. A few houses have sprung up in the vicinity, formerly a tiny settlement, but there is no store or post-office, and the population of the whole village, if it can be called a village, does not exceed twenty or twenty-five inhabitants.
When the Great Western originally surveyed its line through Stephenson County, much dissatisfaction was felt because the railroad did not intend to enter Freeport. The directors of the line received a great many petitions from Freeport people, but nothing served to alter their course. When the line was finished, however, they did condescend to build the old "Dunbar" station near the point where their tracks crossed the south branch of the Illinois Central. The name was subsequently changed to "South Freeport." The station is connected with Freeport by a stage line. Stages leave the Rest Room, at the corner of Van Buren and Exchange Streets, in time to connect with the various Great Western trains. A short time ago automobiles were substituted for the stages, but they are now doing service elsewhere, and the South Freeport traffic is again via stage line. ["History of Stephenson County" by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]
Winneshiek, a village of recent growth, is the only settlement of Lancaster Township. It is located in the extreme eastern part of the township, about three miles south of the village of Dakota, and eight miles from Freeport. Formerly Winneshiek supported a postoffice and many of the farmers of the surrounding country came here for their mail. With the advent of the rural free delivery system, Winneshiek post-office was discontinued, but the general store continues to do a prosperous business among the farmers of the vicinity.
The town site is attractive, the group of houses being located at the foot of a rather steep hill, and surrounded by a small grove of trees. Lancaster Creek courses through the village on its way southward to the Pecatonica. Since the removal of the post-office, Winneshiek is deprived of all its former importance as a business centre, but it still has a population of fifty or more, and a store which is doing a steady paying business.
The village supports a church and school. There are also two other churches in the immediate neighborhood of Winneshiek, as well as three or four schools within a radius of three or four miles. The village is best reached from Freeport by train to Dakota, and thence by carriage, or by carriage direct from Freeport, driving through eight miles of the most attractive cultivated land of Stephenson County. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]
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